I called the line, and it said for emergencies only, please call Dr. Heather Dabling (NOT my doctor) who is on call. That made me nervous. Should I call her? What if it was nothing? I opted to call the 24 hour nurse hotline for my insurance. I explained everything to her, including that I hadn't really had any contractions yet--at least, not consistent or painful ones. She said I should probably call the on call doctor in the next 15 minutes.
Right after talking to the nurse, I felt something very strange--and different--a definite cramping. Hmmm. Is that a contraction? I called Dr. Dabling. She told me that she thought I had passed my "mucous plug" and I probably wouldn't make it till Tuesday, but she wasn't sure if it would be today. She said give it at least 20 minutes to see if the contractions become consistent.
Funny thing--as soon as I got off the phone with her, the contractions started coming, and coming hard. Remember in this post when I ranted about everyone saying "you'll know" about what a contraction feels like? Well...now I do know, and I definitely knew then. Yikes! I thought, if this is not the real thing, then I will never make it through the real thing!
So Robert texted the Sunday school presidency to let them know that I would not be able to teach that day (granted, it's 10am and we have church at 11am...sorry whoever had to cover for me!). We started gathering the last minute items to put in the suitcase that I had thankfully written on a list the night before.
I realized that we were probably going to the hospital right then, and also realized that we hadn't eaten breakfast. A thought came into my head of being in labor for 16 or 20 hours and not have eaten anything since the night before. Ah! It became of utmost importance for me to get some breakfast. Robert poured me a bowl of cereal with fruit while I gathered a few things. By the time I was able to eat the cereal, I could hardly eat any of it because of the painful contractions coming. It must have been a point shortly after that when I realized that I couldn't talk during these painful squeezings, and they were coming fast. All of a sudden I knew that we had to go--NOW. What if I didn't make it in time for an epidural? While I was planning on putting on some makeup (because you should have some time before you go into heavy labor, right?) that thought went immediately out of the window, and I didn't even care if Robert had the suitcase all the way packed. I said to him "We have to hurry--hurry! We have to go NOW!"
I had told Robert all of these things that I wanted to make sure we did on the day the baby came, etc etc, one being that we should take a picture right before we leave. At this point I just wanted to get out of the house, but Robert faithfully said, "Didn't you want a picture?" so we paused for a brief second while I was saying "hurry" for a picture. (Side note--I was insisting that we take a picture before we go to the hospital, and Robert would always say, "a picture? who cares about a picture and who will remember to take one on our way to the hospital?!" I'm giggling that he made sure to take one for me, even though I could have cared less about it at the time.)
Can you tell I'm a little consternated in this photo?
On the way to the hospital, my contractions were coming every 2-3 minutes. And man, they hurt. When we got the hospital, I had to get a wheel chair to get upstairs to the delivery floor. When we arrived, the nurses could see that I was in a lot of pain, and they were all rushing around to get me ready. I got into the gown and they worked on hooking me up to the IV (had to try a couple different places--I have lovely bruises on both of my arms to show from that) and getting everything set up. They checked me, and said I was dilated to a 7. Meanwhile, my contractions are REALLY heating up.
The nurses ran to get the anesthesiologist, who was on his way into a C-section. They said if they couldn't catch him before, I'd have to wait about an hour before I could get the epidural. Let me tell you, none of us wanted that to happen. At this point they were coming every minute to two minutes, and coming hard.
Fortunately the anesthesiologist came in before going to the C-section, and hooked me up. I was so grateful! My legs started tingling and I just had to wait 10-15 minutes for it to kick in all the way. He rushed off to the C-section, and I waited through some more painful contractions with tingling legs, waiting to feel the blessed epidural work its magic.
I waited. And waited. Or more like, I writhed while I waited. After 15 minutes, I asked if it was ever going to work. The nurses said I could push the button to give me some more, so we did that. No avail. We pushed it again after 10 minutes, still nothing.
And during all of this, I feel like I might just die. Strange how I couldn't remember anything--the nurses were asking me what blood type I was and all sorts of things, and I couldn't for the life of me remember! And I was supposed to be keeping my hand with the blood pressure down so that they could monitor it. But when those contractions hit, I don't even know what I did with my arms. I definitely did not keep them down. I know I was digging my head into the side of the bed, and after the nurses brought me a wet rag for my head I was digging that into my face. They also put a rolled up towel behind my back to help with the back pain, and Robert was pushing against my knees to help with the pressure on my back.
The nurses kept handing me the epidural button to push, every ten minutes (sometimes we would try to push it and it hadn't been ten minutes...with a contraction every minute, 10 go by pretty slowly!)
They also had me take some oxygen, since the baby's heartbeat was strained with him trying to get out. Here's a pic of me between contractions:
My mom and dad just happened to come up to see me during all of this. My mom came in the room (I could see my dad at the door) and came over to me. She started crying and stroked my head (I was kind of moaning--sorry Mom!) and said she and Dad would be downstairs.
It had been about an hour and a half since I got the "epidural," and I was getting very tired. I remember lamenting that I hadn't taken a natural birthing class because I was going to have an epidural--but apparently I needed to take one anyway!
The doctor came in and told me that I was dilated all the way. She said she could break my water, which usually increased the pressure of the contractions (yikes!) but then I would be able to push, and that would give me a way to funnel my pain and maybe make it easier. At that same time, the anesthesiologist came back from the C-section. He went right to work putting stuff in my back, and said he thought it should start working in about 3 minutes. So I asked the doctor if we could wait for those 3 minutes to see if it really worked. I didn't really notice any of this, but Robert said the anesthesiologist just kept going and going, and emptying tons of epidural into my back.
After 3 minutes we started pushing, and it actually did feel better. And in about 5 my legs were completely numb and the pain of the contractions went down considerably. And after 15 I could hardly feel the contractions--just the tightening and squeezing, but no pain! HALLELUJAH!
It felt like a party after that. Although I was tired, and quite hungry actually (I had thrown up my breakfast...) but sometimes they had to tell me when a contraction was so that I could push. I was so so grateful!
Here are my thoughts about those who choose natural childbirth: wow. You guys rock. I don't know how you do it. And I'm so glad I didn't have to do it that way the whole time. What did those pioneer women do who were out on the trail and in labor for 16 hours? And then within the next week have to continue going on the trail? Oh my word. Women are amazing.
For the next hour, I pushed with each contraction, and the doctor and nurse talked with us about elaborate primary lessons and other fun things. Then, at 1:26pm, I gave a final push and whoosh! (that is exactly what it felt like--whoosh! and I was empty) out came Robert Thomas. Grunting. They put him up on my tummy for a minute, then they took him over to make sure he was ok. Grunting rather than crying apparently means he could have breathing problems, but he was just fine.
I watched them put him on the scale while the doctor stitched me up, and heard Robert say, "Wow!" He weighed in at 8 lbs 2 oz, and was 20 1/2 inches long. I don't know how he fit inside of me! They wrapped him up and handed me this little stranger:
The doctor and nurses all told me how cute he was. I suggested that all little babies are cute (at least to their mothers), and the doctor and nurse looked at each other and said, "No, they're not all cute. But yours really is!" So I guess that means he really is cute :-)
And what a whirlwind week it has been since then. We have been busy getting to know Tommy, and he has been busy getting to know us as well as a new, big world. No one ever really mentions recovering from having a baby, they just talk about the baby, but the recovery is a big job, too! Thank heavens for my mom who came down to help us out, especially since Robert was in the middle of one of the biggest weeks at work--quarter end. He worked all through the night (10pm-6am) on Monday to be ready for work the next day. Whew!
We love the funny faces that Thomas makes. Here's a good one of his "Tweedle Dee/ Tweedle Dum" face:
It's also funny listening to his sounds and watching his squirmy movements:
We're also having fun dressing him up a bit:
|Michael Jordan onesie|
And today, at one week old, I tried out the sling and he LOVED it. So did I. Makes doing things much easier:
And so here we are, one week later--completely sleep deprived, a little emotional, overwhelmed,and head over heels for our newest addition. Wish us luck!